Hambantota Bid Hit by Another Sri Lankan in Drugs Scandal

May 24, 2011

The Sri Lankan city of Hambantota’s bid to stage the 2018 Commonwealth Games has taken a further blow after another of the nation’s medallists from last year’s Games in Delhi is embroiled in a damaging drugs scandal after weightlifter Chinthana Vidanage tested positive for a banned stimulant and is facing a suspension.

Vidanage won gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and silver in the 69 kg category in Delhi. However, the man who carried the country’s flag at the 2010 Games returned a positive drug test for methylhexaneamine at the Asian Championships in China’s Anhui province last month, it has been reported.

He has been provisionally suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation.

The 29-year-old is an ambassador of Hambantota’s bid and was among four of Sri Lanka’s leading competitors who last month were unveiled by officials bidding for Hambantota to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games as part of an Athletes Commission to help provide advice during the campaign.

When introducing the Commission, Nivard Cabraal, the chairman of Hambantota 2018 stated:”These athletes bring their experience and passion to a bid that promises a compelling combination of tradition and excitement.

“Through the Commission they will help to drive our ‘Athletes Come First’ policy, ensuring all athletes will be welcomed by capacity crowds in iconic venues and with facilities that exceed their expectations.”

The scandal follows the drugs scandal of boxer Manju Wanniarachchi who, under pressure from Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, dropped plans to take the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following their decision to strip him of the gold medal he had won at last year’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi because of a positive test for anabolic steroids.

Vidanage’s medal from Delhi is not in danger but it is a scandal that Hambantota could have done without after the weightlifter tested positive for methylhexaneamine, commonly used as a nasal decongestant, also a product in over-the-counter diet pills.

The drug was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list last year as a stimulant and has led to bans for a raft of athletes across various sports including Nigerian sprinter Damola Osayemi, who was stripped of her Commonwealth Games gold medal she had won in the 100 metres following a positive test for the drug in Delhi. Manchester City soccer star Kolo Touré was also provisionally suspended in March after allegedly testing positive for the drug.

“I was shocked to learn about it as I have never been tested positive for a banned substance after being scrupulously tested everywhere I went from the Commonwealth Games … to Delhi and at every Asian and South Asian championships,” said Vidanage.

“I listed all what I use as supplements and energy drinks to the authorities who took the samples in China and to the local authorities.

“Other than those, I have not used any substance that will have an effect on my performance and I am ready to face any consequences if I am proved guilty.”